Sunday, September 30, 2012

First Grade Name Art

This may be the longest blog post I have ever written!  There were so many cute ideas with this project I had to share as many as I could. 

As background for this project,  several years ago the teachers asked me to create a name art project, but for one reason or another, we were never able to fit it in.   We wanted to create an art project that would reinforce letter sounds and help the children find delight in the letters of their name.  I have searched for name art projects on the internet hoping I would find something that would be suitable for the lower grades but would also be fun and attractive.  I really didn't find much of anything that I liked.   This little name booklet was inspired my friend and colleague Bridget who had created watercolor paintings of alphabet letters.   Here is her blog:

 I didn't know if this project would be too difficult for the children.  I thought it might be, but when has that ever stopped me?  I decided to try it, and see how it went.

To begin this project,  I hand drafted a set of  upper case and lower case alphabet letters using some "blocky" shapes and sized to fit exactly on the pages of our little booklet.  I wanted something a bit fun and whimsical and I didn't want to use a standard font.   The booklet was created by folding butcher paper and cutting it in 5 inch sections.  Then each  5 inch section was refolded in an accordion like fashion and cut to fit the child's name.  For the cover, I cut pieces of mat board into rectangular pieces about 2 3/4" x 5".  The cover pieces were glued on the front and back of the book to give it more stability.

Then I made copies of the letters and cut them into squares.  I sorted the letters into little bins and so I had 26 bins for the lower case letters and 26 bins for the upper case letters.  The children walked along and picked out the letters in their name.

Once each child had selected their letters, I showed them some ideas for decorating their letters.  We explained that we wanted them to decorate their letters using pictures of something that represented the "sound" the letter makes.  In the above picture, a teacher made this example.  On "A" she put ants, then nuts, nails and apples,  each on the appropriate letter.

To complete her example she put envelopes on the "e", then lollipops, a lion and elves.

This is the completed name with the letters clued onto the accordion folded paper.  The upper case letter was glued on two pages, but each letter is glued on it's own page.

Now the fun begins:  Here is Ryder's name.  He drew Roses, Yarn, a Dog, Eggs and a Rabbits.  At the beginning of the week, I did not tell the children to write the "words" on their letters, but as the project evolved, I started asking them to do this because sometimes it was difficult for me to tell what they had drawn.  The words tell a story.

Here is Joshua's book.  On his "J" he drew a cute little picture of a boy with a jump rope.  His "o" is an octopus, then he made a snake and a house.  Look closely at the "u".  It is a unicorn!  He asked me if anyone else had done a unicorn.  No, no one else had!  I have 10 first grade classes and there were so many new ideas every single day!  It was fun to see how differently every child interpreted this project.


Eggs and Glue Bottles

Apples and a nap (of course!)

An elephant.  I love to see the invented spellings.  It is very age appropriate.

Here is Deegan's whole name!  After a few days, I started encouraging the children to OUTLINE their letters with the markers because it really made the names look better.

A close-up of a bee and and elephant.

 Notice all the little brown houses around the "t" creating a little town.   There are hearts on the "h" and apple's on the "a".   Parents:  I hope you treasure the invented spellings.  All too soon your children will want to spell it the "right" way.  I am so happy when I see a child who is willing to phonetically create a spelling.  It shows me they are thinking about the sounds of a word and the sounds of the letters.  Teachers:  If the students ask me the proper spelling of a word, I help them, but I really love it when students do their own invented spellings. 

Numbers on the "n" and a very cute yak on the "y".

I loved the original drawings on this one.  The "A" reminds me of the book Ten apples up on top.  The yellow "n" is filled with noodles. 

Here we have a cute little dinosaur and a robot.  
These drawings are so creative and done as only a first grader can do them!

 Ending with an egg and a worm...

Here is the completed little book.  Notice how much nicer it looks when the children outline the letters.

A bird and a rainbow.

A nap, a net and a lion.

 I loved these adorable little kites on the K.

Such a sweet little lion and a yak.

 A Tiger on the T.  Taylor has great line design too!

The finished book folds up to a small size with the black covers on each end.  You can read the book a page at a time, or expand it to read the entire name at once.

 In this cute book, Malory informed us that the cute little creatures on the "M" were monkeys!  

She did a very cute interpretation of a lion, and the cutest of all is this 
little "ocean" with a goldfish jumping up in the air!

The entire name.

In our district, we are asked to post child friendly objectives for each lesson. This isn't the best, but this is a snapshot of my whiteboard just so you can see how I write the objectives.  We want to make sure that the children understand exactly what we want them to learn and do.  

I had a major breakthrough on the very last day we taught this class.  All week I had just asked the children to illustrate the letter using a picture illustrating the sound that it makes.   I didn't really address vowels or letters that made multiple sounds.  Rylee came up to me with her lower case "y" and she told me that she didn't want to make the "y" sound on her letter because in her name it made the sound of a "i".  She thought it through very logically and I realized that she was right. She decided to turn her "y" into an ice cream cone with a scoop of blue ice cream on top.  I was very pleased that Rylee was applying this lesson so literally, and it opened my eyes to one more aspect of the lesson.  If I teach this again, I will tell the students that can decorate either with the traditional letter sound, or the letter sound that is actually in their name.

And so even at the end, in the very last class we were still getting new ideas.  Treyden turned his  "T" into a tree!

Teacher notes:   After the children decorated all of their letters we glued them into the book.  The entire lesson took about an hour to complete, but some of the children with longer names kept working on their books during recess.  In most classes, I glued the covers on the books after the children left.   This lesson takes a lot of preparation but the children loved it and I am very pleased with the results.